Friday, August 12, 2011

A COOL OASIS: JUST BE! AND A CELEBRATION OF RED


red wall with grass
bougainvillea
ice plant of some sort
From a reader:

"Hello Heather!

I just wanted to thank you for this post from last week. It was so much in line with what I have experienced in the last couple of years! These are just a few of the ideas that REALLY resonate with me:

- The first thing to note is that the "Little Way" does not refer, or does not refer exclusively, to the habit of doing "little" things for God. It refers instead to her realization that she was not strong enough, noble enough, or spiritually advanced enough to lift herself up to God. Using the metaphor of a "Divine Elevator," God would lift Him up to her.

- Again, her genius lies in integrating the psychological and the spiritual. Because continuing the theme that the chief characteristic of God is non-violence, she realized that to try, to strain, to generate love for people, many of whom we don't remotely like, is a form of violence.

- She began to realize that our love for God isn't something we manufacture on our own and "give" to God. She realized God first loves us, then we love Him. We love God by letting Him love us, not by "working" at love.

- Then we walk away from all arithmetic and ledger-keeping in our spiritual life and abandon any tendency toward perfectionism or willfulness;...

"Merit does not consist in doing or giving much, but rather in receiving, in loving much...When Jesus wills to take for Himself the sweetness of giving, it would not be gracious to refuse."

"What offends Jesus, what wounds him to the heart, is our lack of confidence. You can never have too much confidence in God, who is so powerful and so merciful. You receive from God as much as you hope for"...

All of that “outward” motion, that striving, and giving was a symptom of my inability to sit still with myself. It all came crashing down, and I realized that that kind of effort was completely useless. I didn’t have to think about it. It was just a reality. The scales had fallen from my eyes. I could no longer strive for him in the way that I used to because I could now see how totally useless it was. What replaced it was a strange and new experience of sitting with myself with God. Don’t move, just sit! Just BE! With me.

It’s a more “feminine” way of being. Most of what we are fed, I would say, is an emphatically masculine way of being. Giving and receiving are both important. You cannot have one without the other. It’s a fundamental paradox of life. But what we hear mostly about is giving. It’s the assumed answer to everything. Heck, even JPII said it (quoting VII), “Man finds himself in the sincere gift of himself.” As I said, this is certainly true. But it is not the WHOLE truth. And people will not be ABLE to give themselves if they do not know how to receive themselves (and others). I think that all the great givers (the saints) have also been great receivers. But the receiving has been sort of hidden for most of them. St. Therese is a notable exception. She was acutely aware that she was receiving. And she knew how important it was to receive well. This is why she is so important for the Church today.

Anyway, just wanted to share this with you and thank you again for writing the things that you do. Some days it feels like an cool oasis in the desert!

Gratefully yours"...

crown-of-thorns
berries, unfortunately inedible
michelle

4 comments:

  1. Amen to that correspondent and to your recent writings Heather. If I had access to a proper computer, I would have written something similar (although far less articulate) in response to your reflections on St Therese. Thank you so much- these articles have contributed in no small part to some real 'light bulb' moments over the last couple of weeks. How hard it is just to receive and accept one's self. For me anyway. This has become my prayer this week- that I would know deeply God's love for me or there's no possible way I can love Him or anyone else. Thank you again and please be assured of my prayers.

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  2. I've enjoyed your articles about St Therese. I had never heard of her before starting to read you blog.

    I find it troubling, however, the characterizing of God as nonviolent. It makes it seem as though the God of the New Testament is not the same as the God of the Old. It's certainly true that even in the Old Testament, God does not willingly use violence. Even when he destroys Sodom and Gomorrah, for example, it is because "the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous." Everyone remembers them for sexual sin, but Ezekiel doesn't eve mention it: the sin of Sodom was "She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy."

    Throughout the Old Testament, God uses violence in judgment. Even in the New, there are many warnings of judgment to come. Most of them come, not from that old Pharisee Paul, but from Jesus himself. So I'm not sure that the truth that God is love means the same as God is nonviolent.

    Nevertheless, I am sure that Jesus has called his followers to be peacemakers, not troublemakers. He has called us to emulate him in laying down our lives for one another. He has specifically forbidden us from condemning sinners because he is still extending an invitation to the whole human race to join him. The gospel is nonviolent because in it Jesus has taken upon himself the violence of God's judgment so that we no longer need to fear God's wrath.

    I also don't think that violence can be equated with force. Governments need to be able to use force to compel lawfulness. Police officers are trained to (and held to an ideal of) using only as much force as is needed to compel lawfulness.

    Finally, I think love is such a positive, energetic way of being that nonviolence with its negative connotations of not-being cannot contain it. Love expresses itself with out violence, but not all nonviolence is love.

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  3. Hi Chip, well the way I see it I think that's just the point: our understanding of God DOES change from the Old Testament to the New. God is the same of course but with the coming of Christ, our understanding of God changes, evolves. Christ fulfills "the law" by incarnating the spirit of the law: that God is of mercy, of love. He didn't come to condemn, he came to bring us to fullness of life, to joy. Which means we can maybe all relax a bit...I hope...

    Thanks for your reflections, and Jason as always, and Lizzie, so glad you've had some 'light bulb moments' and I am GRATEFUL for the prayers...

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I WELCOME your comments!!!